Eurosphere roundup: Standard & Poor’s threat over EU core countries; Merkel & Sarkozy “to discipline the EU”; news from euroblogging…

MAIN FOCUS: Standard & Poor’s threatens bailout fund | 07/12/2011

from euro|topics
The US rating agency Standard & Poor’s threatened on Tuesday to downgrade the credit rating of the EFSF bailout fund. Fifteen euro countries are now also having to worry that they may lose their top credit standings. With its move Standard & Poor’s has opened fire on the Monetary Union and harmed the reputation of the rating agencies in the process, commentators write.

EU summit: The leaked Van Rompuy report

from Brussels Blog by Peter Spiegel

Merkozy euro proposals face EU members and Standard & Poor’s

by Grahnlaw
Even if the web is overflowing with reports and comments on the Merkozy proposals, there is cause to record the primary sources from the last two days.

European Council 8 to 9 December 2011: Euro solution or failure? (Updated)

by Grahnlaw
Paris, Berlin or Brussels… Credible, accountable and democratic government is not on the cards for the European Union or the eurozone, so what can we expect from the European Council Thursday and Friday, 8 to 9 December 2011?

Among many, many, let us look at some of the best contributions on the web.

MAIN FOCUS: Merkel and Sarkozy want to discipline the EU | 06/12/2011

from euro|topics

Germany and France called for an amendment of the EU treaties on Monday, above all singling out deficit sinners for automatic punishment. The move marks a step toward fiscal union and can save the euro, some commentators write, while others doubt such an encroachment on national sovereignty can solve the problems of the Monetary Union.

Sarkozy rides through the storm

from – World, Europe

France is just one out of 15 eurozone countries placed on negative watch, including mighty Germany

EU and eurozone transparency: DIY

by Grahnlaw

Transparency moves in a mysterious way in the European Union. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the president of the European Council and of the Euro Summits, Herman Van Rompuy, has not published his interim report on improving economic union.

Perhaps 502 or 332 million people are wrong to believe that the matter merits public interest in advance of the European Council 8 to 9 December 2011.

Take, take, take, and a scant grasp of the facts ? this week?s UK-EU hulabaloo

from Jon Worth by Jon

Anyone would think ? from reading the stories today on The Guardian?s website ? that the UK is shaping up for some major fight with the European Union over treaty reform prior to this week?s summit.

There are two problems with this.

Euro end-game or end of crisis? Eurozone heads into critical summit, Kirsty Hughes

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Kirsty Hughes

There will be huge sighs of relief if the potential political and economic catastrophe of a break-up of the euro is avoided. But a return to ‘normal’ politics it will not be.

Summiting the mountain that is the eurozone crisis

by Open Europe blog team

The perpetual rolling meetings which have characterised this eurozone crisis look to be reaching a head this week. The EU summit which kicks off on Thursday evening will undoubtedly be preceded by a series of smaller meetings between European officials and bilateral meetings with foreign leaders keen to see a solution to the crisis found (and in town to apply the suitable amount of public pressure).

Super Mario Shows His Hand

by Open Europe blog team

The new Italian government has been in office for less than 20 days. That must have seemed an eternity given the record interest rates Italy has been forced to pay by the markets over the past few weeks, while uncertainty remained over what Mario Monti and his cabinet of technocrats were actually planning to do to get Italy out of the crisis.

A short guide to the European Council

from Behind the Scenes by Honor Mahony
1)   This is it. The summit to beat all summits. This is D-day for the eurozone crisis. You may think you have heard this before. You have. But now Standard & Poor?s have said so, too. So it must be true.
2)   ?Bazooka?. First coined by British Prime Minister David Cameron. It is apparently what the eurozone needs. And a big one at that. It?s proved a rather useful term for journalists and politicians alike as it can hide a multitude of solutions. Or nothing at all. Watch out for its use at the summit.

Europe: after the endgame, Nick van Praag

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Nick van Praag
The eurozone crisis reveals the exhaustion of the post-1945 model of Europe-building. This poses a historic challenge to Europe’s current leaders, says Nick van Praag.

Eurobonds ? Printed Money = All policies in favor of bankers

from Ideas on Europe by Protesilaos Stavrou

The policies that have been implemented so far in the Eurozone (and beyond) have largely benefited private banks at the expense of taxpayer money. The narrative from 2008 up until today, has been one of ?generous? taxpayers bailing out reckless bankers, at the expense of greater debts, higher future taxes, self-defeating austerity, high unemployment and increasing inflation.

A Greek tragedy: the making of the Greek and Euro-Atlantic ruling classes, Vassilis K. Fouskas

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Vassilis K. Fouskas

Who is George Papandreou? The author challenges what he sees as the defence over recent years on this website of PASOK?s reform agenda by Anthony Barnett and Mary Kaldor. This neoliberalism in sheep?s clothing, he argues, has nothing to do with the radical democratic reform proposed by the Arab uprisings and Occupy movements. This is our latest debate on whether Europe can make it.

Towards a Red-Green People?s Europe, George Papandreou

from open Democracy News Analysis – by George Papandreou

The president of PASOK and of the Socialist International addressed the German Green party in an audience including Dany le Vert and Cem Özdemir, the first son of Turkish guest workers to enter mainstream German politics, in Kiel on November 25. This is the text of his speech ? a tour de horizon of the key elements of an alternative, democratic People?s Europe which he says just needs some time to re-occupy.

Euroblogs in German

by Grahnlaw

Yesterday I looked at the euro crisis and euroblogs on, the multilingual aggregator. As I said:

Increasingly Europeans realise that they are in the same boat, although some design the improved vessels for the future, some recall scrapped luxury liners of past glory, some see the Titanic fatally heading towards the iceberg (while deck-chairs are being arranged) and some remind us of the harsh and unjust treatment (austerity) which led to the Mutiny on the Bounty.

German and Germany

EU social media and online public space

by Grahnlaw

What if the European public sphere owes its existence to social media, asks Michael Malherbe (Décrypter la communciation européenne blog), continuing the interesting presentation by Mathew Lowry on the EU online public space (although reading a Prezi presentation can be a pretty hallucinating experience).

Merkozy fiddles while eurozone burns

by Grahnlaw

The president of the European Council and the Euro Summits, Herman Van Rompuy, and the leaders in the 25 other European capitals sit twiddling their thumbs, waiting for Merkozy.

Euro crisis and euroblogs on Bloggingportal

by Grahnlaw

The euro is the currency of 332 million people, more than the home of the United States dollar (about 313 million). The severe euro crisis affects not only the 17 countries of the eurozone, but the economic prospects in the whole European Union (population 502 million) and beyond, actually the world economy.

Sarkozy and Merkel meet on euro

from BBC News | Europe | World Edition
France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel are to unveil proposals on the eurozone debt crisis, at the start of a critical week for the EU.

Eurothinkers (Centre for European Studies): THE EURO CRISIS?WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

from – Today’s posts

The European Union is facing a crisis because of the loss of confidence in the debts issued by several member states. This is related directly to the problems and activities of Europe?s banks. On 9 December in Brussels, the Heads of Government of…

Irrelevant Merkozy

from A Fistful Of Euros » A Fistful Of Euros by Alex Harrowell
So ?Merkel acts to save the euro?, as various British headline writers misleadingly put it. This action consists of proposing that the 17 eurozone states make a side-agreement ? therefore not requiring a full Inter-Governmental Conference ? to have a European authority scrutinise their budgets and fine them if they run big budget deficits. Crucially, this would be approved by qualified-majority voting rather than unanimity, so there would be no national veto over the sanctions. It is somehow amusing how literally every great and little issue in the European Union seems to end up in a row about qualified-majority voting. Of course, this is an example of the basic truth that politics is about power. But it is in practice pretty rare that the distinction matters much.

Euro: Waiting for Merkozy

by Grahnlaw
Heads of government (or state) in most European capitals may think about Samuel Beckett, as they wait for Merkozy.

Deflation, haircuts and the ECB printing money to prevent them

from Ideas on Europe by Protesilaos Stavrou
The pressures on the European Central Bank to start using the printing press are mounting. Those who call for such action see Italy, Spain, Belgium, France and any other sovereign that might follow as being in trouble, since markets are not willing to lend them money at affordable interest rates. Without affordable interest rates, it understandably becomes impossible to service the financing needs of the state. So the New Jerusalem that is being canvased is that the ECB steps in (by printing money) and buys government bonds to push interest rates downwards. They argue it is a great idea to allow the ECB to play that role, since the burdens on the shoulders of the individual citizen will be reduced and finally the ECB will act as a ?real? central bank, taking part of the states? debt. Though I have no doubt about the noble principles of protecting society that underpin this proposal, I am convinced that there is something terribly wrong with it. It treats the whole issue as a ?free lunch?, as a policy with no real cost that will get society something good out of nothing. In addition those who support debt monetization err fundamentally on assuming deflation (falling prices) as a purely evil thing; while also they have not worked out in full the ramifications of this policy: Who will benefit the most?

EU and euro crisis: Internal weaknesses and unanimity

by Grahnlaw
Some countries are born weak, some achieve weakness and some have weakness thrust upon them. The United Kingdom joined the EEC (later EU) late and grudgingly, after its EFTA strategy failed. Britain has worked hard to drag the course of European integration down to its own level, reluctantly agreeing to further steps while opting out of essential policy areas and core groups. Representing a member state seen as playing as much against as for its team, prime minister David Cameron is and has thrust himself into the position of being an obstacle, a nuisance or an irrelevance.

Eurozone: Cameron can watch and hope

by Grahnlaw
UK prime minister David Cameron is not in an enviable position. If the euro crashes, the troubled British economy would take a severe turn for the worse. The United Kingdom has to hope that the leaders of the eurozone finally get their act together next week.

Sarko Has Spoken

by Open Europe blog team
The day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s keynote speech (available here) on the state of French economy and the future of the eurozone, those who (like us) were expecting a bit more details on what exactly France is planning to change in the EU Treaties have been disappointed. Sarkozy made some general remarks on his vision of the future of the eurozone, but then announced that the specific proposals for Treaty change would be finalised at a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.

MAIN FOCUS: Sarkozy’s path through the crisis | 02/12/2011

from euro|topics
In a keynote speech in Toulon on Thursday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy defended his policy in the crisis and presented his views on enhanced European cooperation. He presented a courageous analysis of France’s weakness, some commentators write, while others criticise Sarkozy’s failings when it comes to Europe.

Eurocrisis, Democratic Deficit and the Re:New Conference

from The European Citizen by Eurocentric
Throughout the Re:New Conference references were made to that most European of monsters: Merkozy. Yesterday Sarkozy spoke, and today Merkel has spoken in the Bundestag about Europe and the Eurozone. While European integration – and a new treaty – was held up to be necessary, Merkel rejected Eurobonds as expensive and unconstitutional. At the same time, the European Parliament has passed a resolution, declaring that it should have equal powers with the Council over any new features of economic union (such as an EU Finance Minister) so that there is sufficient democratic oversight.

France and intergovernmentalism

from Behind the Scenes by Honor Mahony
Germany has been receiving some bad press lately.  It has emerged as the undisputed leader amid this eurozone crisis. So it is Berlin?s medicine that is prevailing. Not everybody else in Europe agrees with the remedy, which is seen as too dogmatic, too fixated on balanced budgets to the detriment of growth.  A slow-acting Chancellor plus some holier-than-thou domestic debate in Germany did nothing to stem the criticism.

Sweden Democrat?s anti-Muslim hysteria, Barzoo Eliassi

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Barzoo Eliassi
Ethnic discrimination and vilification of Muslims in Europe show that European democracy is declining while racism and repressive policies are taking root and becoming the natural order of mainstream politics in many European countries.

“The Eurozone Crisis and the Social Debate” by Henning Meyer

from Social Europe Journal » Blogs by Henning Meyer
On 9th November I was giving a talk at a conference organised by the Federal Trust and the Global Policy Institute. The topic was how the Eurozone crisis impacts on the social policy debate in Europe. If you are interested in this issue here is what I had to say:

EU treaty games

by Open Europe blog team
What, exactly, does Germany want from EU Treaty change to enforce budget discipline in the eurozone? Even if one speaks to diplomats and ministers with a front row seat on this issue, a straight answer is hard to come by ? which is partly due to the fact that Berlin itself doesn?t quite know (Germany being internally divided).

The French learn followership

by Centre for European Reform
by Charles Grant

For the first time in the history of the EU, Germany is the unquestioned leader, and France is number two. Since the financial crisis struck in 2008, the economic inequality between France and Germany has grown. Although regular summits between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy maintain the appearance of parity, France’s higher levels of debt and public spending, its lower level of exports, its less well capitalised banks and its rising borrowing costs vis-à-vis Germany have forced it to accept German leadership on economic policy.

Could the euro crisis save Belgium?

from FP Passport by Joshua Keating
It may be hard to imagine a silver lining in S&P’s decision to downgrade Belgium’s credit rating from AA+ to AA, but the move may have had the unintended consequence of pressuring Belgian leaders to finally get around to forming a government. The country hasn’t had a permanent government since April 2010 — and hasn’t really had a stable one in more than four years — but an agreement on a budget deal this week may have paved the way for a more permanent arangement, with the king calling on chief negotiator Elio di Rupo to form a coalition. It seems like the downgrade may have finally lit a fire under the country’s divided linquistic factions:

Cyprus is on the edge of the cliff

from Ideas on Europe by Protesilaos Stavrou

The Republic of Cyprus is facing the increasing threat of coming to the need of a bailout as its economy continues to deteriorate. The malignancies of the Cyprus economy are indeed numerous and are found both in private and public sector.

Eurozone good governance, transparency and democracy

by Grahnlaw
As long as the self-proclaimed leaders of the eurozone reject democratic and sufficient powers at European level, efforts and rumours will concentrate on artificial and ineffective solutions to the euro crisis.

MAIN FOCUS: Euro countries leverage bailout fund | 30/11/2011

from euro|topics
The finance ministers of the euro countries agreed on Tuesday night to leverage the bailout fund. But Germany continues to reject euro bonds and massive bond purchases by the ECB. A catastrophic mistake, write some commentators, while others praise Berlin’s clear stance.

Bosnia between ethnic-nationalism and Europeanization, Bedrudin Brljavac

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Bedrudin Brljavac
The Bosnian political elites who tend to safeguard domination of purely ethnic interests at all costs now must choose between maintenance of ethnic apartheid or integration into the European Union
?I have been thinking about the notion of perfect love as being without fear, and what that means for us in a world that’s becoming increasingly xenophobic, tortured by fundamentalism and nationalism?  Bell Hooks

EU-Israel relations: Everything is economic

from Ideas on Europe by blog
The EU should focus more on its relations with the private sector in Israel, and forget to a certain extent the politics, in order to strengthen its position as an influential external actor ? argues  Shelly Gottfried.*

EU: Ecofin and Annual Growth Survey 2012

by Grahnlaw
The agenda of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council 30 November 2011 promises a presentation by the Commission of the Annual Growth Survey (AGS).

Here is a recent blog post about the second European Semester and AGS, with links back to the first round.

The Ecofin Council background note underlines the need for implementation of the guidelines this time around:

MAIN FOCUS: Finance ministers to negotiate euro bailout | 29/11/2011

from euro|topics
The Eurozone finance ministers will meet today in Brussels to discuss leveraging the bailout fund to one trillion euros. Measures such as euro bonds and loans from the European Central Bank are being blocked above all byGermany. Pushing for budget discipline is in principle correct but unhelpful at the present moment, commentators write.

Europe’s choice: Monnet vs de Gaulle, Charles Grant

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Charles Grant
The pressure of financial crisis is changing the European Union’s internal power-balance. The rival visions of two of its pioneering statesmen are in play, says Charles Grant.
The euro crisis is transforming the balance of power in Europe. Germany is emerging, for the first time in the European Union?s history, as the unquestioned leader. France is having to adjust to a subordinate role. The euro countries are likely to integrate more closely, leading to a two-speed Europe. Britain is moving to the margins. One other key shift has attracted less attention but is just as significant: the European commission is becoming weaker vis-à-vis the member-states.

The curious case of German leadership

by Centre for European Reform
By Katinka Barysch

Some of Germany?s European partners accuse Chancellor Angela Merkel of refusing, or failing, to lead properly in the euro crisis. Many Germans agree with that analysis and call for Merkel to guide the rescue efforts with a firmer hand and more vision. Just as many, however, think that Germany is actually leading well, and that this is not sufficiently acknowledged. As one opposition politician put it to me during a recent Berlin visit: ?Germany is expected to lead, and if we do, we are criticised as arrogant ? unless it?s in line with what others want.? I learnt that the way many Germans define leadership differs from the views that seem to prevail in other EU countries.

EU Access to Documents Reform: Council?s view on Parliament?s report

from Ideas on Europe by Ronny Patz
Last week, the EU Parliament Civil Liberties committee ? with the exception of the EPP group ? voted in favour of a draft report which in essence supports more access to EU documents (see my blog post).

After the fall of Berlusconi, who reaps the benefits?, Carlo Ungaro

from open Democracy News Analysis – by Carlo Ungaro
The Catholic Church is seizing the advantage offered by the debacle suffered by almost all the Italian political parties, and therefore appears set to play a growing role in Italy?s political life, ending up as the principal, though perhaps occult, arbiter of future decisions and orientations.

EU: Ecofin followed up G20 Cannes summit

by Grahnlaw
When I waded through the documents published by the G20 summit in Cannes 3 to 4 November 2011, I wondered if the Ecofin Council of the EU would find anything intelligent to say, something to highlight for posterity.

The euro crisis: What next?

from Nosemonkey’s EUtopia by nosemonkey
Ahead of today?s Commons vote on a possible EU referendum, some basic points that many are overlooking (originally posted as a comment over at Jon Worth?s place):

Polish PM Donald Tusk: New EU visionary?

from Nosemonkey’s EUtopia by nosemonkey
The way the (pro-EU) Guardian portrays it, he might well be with his speech as Poland took over the rotating EU presidency* yesterday:
Assuming the rotating presidency of the EU for the first time, Donald Tusk rounded on the leaders of Germany, France, Italy, and Britain over their handling of the sovereign debt crisis in Greece, immigration, EU spending and the budget. He charged them with posing as European champions while pandering to a new form of Euroscepticism for personal political gain, and of using fears about immigration to curb freedom of travel in Europe.

The constitutional position of referendums in the UK

from Nosemonkey’s EUtopia by nosemonkey
Ahead of today?s Commons vote on a possible EU referendum, some basic points that many are overlooking (originally posted as a comment over at Jon Worth?s place):

Re:New: Europarties and Primaries

from The European Citizen by Eurocentric
When I wrote about the Re:New conference and the lack of policy at the PES level on Friday, I wanted to find out more about the Europarty and how things are done. Luckly there was a workshop on Transnational parties on Saturday, which I attended (annoyingly most of the workshops I would be interested in were on on Saturday afternoon: I would have liked to have asked a few questions at the citizenship workshop on Zambrano andMcCarthy).

Sarkozy: French president and German chancellor to save euro

by Grahnlaw
Yesterday, 1 December 2011, president Nicolas Sarkozy promised the French people later retirement, longer working weeks and smaller public deficits. Europe offers more sovereignty through added opportunities to act.

If France and Germany are united, Europe is united. On Monday the two countries are going to make proposals to guarantee the future of Europe. Sarkozy promised to do his utmost to create an area of stability and confidence at the heart of the eurozone.

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